TCM for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.)

What is M.E.?

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, M.E., is a disease characterized by disabling fatigue and exhaustion together with a diverse range of symptoms. “Myalgic” means pain in the muscles and “encephalomyelitis” means inflammation of the brain and nerves. The typical symptoms are mental and physical exhaustion, muscle pain and weakness, insomnia, palpitation, lack of concentration, eye pain and light sensitivity, gastrointestinal disturbance and abdominal pain, fever, chills and night sweats, etc. Because of the confusion over the definition and diagnosis of the disease, many different names are given to the disease. It is also called “chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome,” “Chronic Epstteinbarr Virus Syndrome,” “”Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”.

 What causes it in terms of TCM?

Pathogenic dampness, complicated by antibiotics, is a root cause of M.E in terms of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).Dampness is heavy and turbid in nature. A damp disease is usually marked by heavy sensations as lassitude, heavy sensation of the head and body, and aching and sluggishness of the limbs.
 Pathogenic dampness is differentiated into exopathic dampness and endogenous dampness. Exopathic dampness is usually due to damp climate, wading in water or being caught in the rain, as well as living in a damp environment. Endogenous dampness is usually caused by the dysfunction of the spleen in transportation leading to the impairment of water metabolism. Exopathic and endogenous dampness can influence each other and are inter dependent.

Some other factors are also liable to the accumulation of interior dampness. Over-consumption of dairy products is a typical one. Dairy products are usually damp in nature and are high in protein. They burden the stomach and spleen in one aspect and directly attack the spleen to cause the dysfunction of the spleen in fluid transportation and transformation, thus causing retention of dampness within the body. The overuse of antibiotics during virus infection can be another factor to cause the accumulation of interior dampness. Anti-biotics are always cold in nature because of their anti-inflammatory function. In terms of TCM, persistent cold disturbs the spleen and stomach and therefore results indeficiency of the spleen. This is why stomachs can feel upset when taking them.

The pace of our lives in today’s increasingly competitive society contributes greatly to the high occurrence of M.E. . Today, we tend to not only over-use our bodies and brains but also to try to alter the physiological balance we need in our lives. We sleepless, eat unhealthy food, become addicted to smoking and drinking, exercise less and less, work more and more, and create more stress for ourselves. The result of such actions is deficiency of Spleen Qi which in turn results in the accumulation of dampness in the interior.

Besides pathogenic dampness, pathogenic heat and pathogenic cold can also be agents responsible for M.E.
Independently or combined with the dampness. The most common types are dampness, damp-heat and cold-damp accumulated in the interior.

It also should be pointed out that M.E. has two stages in general: acute and chronic stages.

What can TCM do for M.E.?

TCM doctor can treat this problem by the following ways:
1.       Acupuncture.
This is because acupuncture re-balances the vital energy of the body – the Qi which flows continuously around the meridian system, which is an energetic network of channels that not only connects the acupuncture points to each other but also directly influences the functioning of internal organs and other controlling systems of the body.
2.       TCM doctors will also prescribe some herbs to tonify the spleen and external dampness.
3.       Herbmetic clinics also have other herbal products such as drinking liquid and tablets for this problem.


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